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The Professional (1981)
"Le professionnel" (original title)

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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 8,243 users  
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Victim of a plot which has resulted in his imprisonment in a Central African jail for two years, a French secret agent arrives in Paris to settle accounts.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Josselin Beaumont dit 'Joss'
Le ministre
Alice Ancelin (as Cyrielle Claire)
Marie-Christine Descouard ...
Doris Frederiksen
Jeanne Baumont
Jean-Louis Richard ...
Le colonel Martin
Michel Beaune ...
Le capitaine Valeras
Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu ...
L'inspecteur Farges (as Bernard Donnadieu)
Pierre Saintons ...
Le président N'Jala
Gérard Darrieu ...
L'instructeur Picard
Sidiki Bakaba ...
Le prisonnier évadé
Robert Hossein ...
Le commissaire Rosen
Dany Kogan ...
Sergent Gruber
Marc Lamole ...
Le serveur d'hôtel


French secret agent Joss Baumont is sent to one of the African countries to kill their president Njala. However, at the last moment the political situation changes and the French secret service turns him in to the African authorities, and he is sentenced to a long-term imprisonment. After the daring escape he returns to France and deliberately informs his former chiefs of his presence promising them to kill Njala who has just arrived to the country with the official visit. Written by Yuri German <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Parents Guide:





Release Date:

21 October 1981 (France)  »

Also Known As:

The Professional  »

Box Office


FRF 20,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


4th highest grossing movie of its year in France. Broke the 300,000 admissions mark in Paris; a record at the time. See more »


When the clochards reach the car with the policemen inside, one of the chlochards destroys a bottle on the roof of the car, so the roof gets wet and there are lots of glass splinters on it. In various shots after, the roof is completely clean again. See more »


References Boudu Saved from Drowning (1932) See more »


Chi Mai
Composed by Ennio Morricone
Directed by Ennio Morricone
Published by Général Music France
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User Reviews

Audiard's exquisite irreverence, Belmondo's flamboyant charisma and Morricone's divine score ...
17 December 2011 | by (France) – See all my reviews

A hit-man, a helicopter, an unforgettable climactic sequence, a, thriller, a music … It's sad that 90% of movie fans now remember "The Professional" as a great action/thriller film made by a French director named … Luc Besson, and featuring the acting debut of Natalie Portman, and Jean Reno as a professional hit-man protecting her from the claws of a demented cop played by Gary Oldman.

I guess EVERYONE in America associates THIS title with THIS film, while in France, and probably in Europe, when people think of "The Professional", there's a beautiful melody instantly resonating in their mind, a penetrating score that conveys the fatality hanging over the shoulders of one of the greatest antiheroes of French Cinema: Joss Beaumont, played by Jean-Paul Belmondo in his career's most defining role, and the notes I'm thinking of while writing these lines are certainly some of the greatest that ever enriched Cinema's musical memories, a sound made by the great Ennio Morricone. If you haven't seen the film and if you're unfamiliar with the music, I allow you to suspend the reading of this review, because it's so pointless compared to the beauty of "The Professional"'s score. And I implore you to go listen to it, before getting back to this useless assemblage of words.

What is "The Professional", or who is he? I don't know if this really matters if you don't plan to watch the film. It's so simplistic in its premise that it can be compared to anything made before or after, like "The Day of the Jackal" or even the 1994's "Professional" after all: you have your traditional cat-and-mouse chase between a killer with a sense of honor, and the cops and politicians whose ambiguous motives make you inevitably root for their target. Manipulation? No, the film is simply above these considerations, when you watch it; you understand that it doesn't have no purpose else than to captivate you until a rewarding confrontation. It still has an average 80's B-movie feel, some campy acting, some visual and sound effects that need to be reconsidered, the blood looks like red paint, in fact, the form is as simplistic as the content.

And the treatment toward women is exquisitely misogynistic in the purest tradition of James Bond films where even in the most honorable woman, there's something slutty waiting for the magnetic Belmondo, to exude itself, all the opportunities to expose some nude breasts or curvy legs are good, but for some reason, it suits the spirit of a film that doesn't embarrass itself with political correctness: these were other days where movies obeyed to some formulas that didn't depend on the public's reaction. Indeed, the script written by Michel Audiard, one of the most popular French writers, is a challenge for moral sensitivity, since nobody's spared : Africans, politicians, women, cops, there's a cloud of badness contaminating the air and spilling over all the characters, and in this environment where each works for his or her interest, all we can do is to root for the man who follows his instinct, his sense of duty, his honor.

Joss Beaumont is the man who was paid to kill the President of a fictional African country, and was literally sold by his government. After two years, he's back to France, and determined to finish his job, even if the President became a friend of France. People are so banally corrupted that the very notion of hero and villain becomes pointless. There's a great line coming from the African head of state who tells Joss that 'it took France two revolutions and five republics to become a very debatable form of democracy, and he's supposed to do that in years?' During the disenchanted 70's when France was stricken by an economical crisis, the infamous "Giscard presidency", and when the public was disillusioned with the power of law, an icon had to incarnate this moral ambiguity between what is legal and is legitimate. Since his debuts with Melville, Belmondo was born to play likable outlaws and needless to say that "The Professional" was tailor-made for him.

The movie has reached such an iconic status in France that it might catch off-guard some younger or foreign audience, because at first sight, there's something almost deliberately poor in the way it's handled until the cat-and-mouse aspect gradually turns more into a sort of chess game where Beaumont is so well-trained that he becomes a real mastermind, using the greatest tricks he learned, he even refers to chess by using the 'playing the whites' strategy: the attack. And naturally, there's always this feeling of everyone trying to anticipate the moves of the other, to which person he'll get, and what he'll do next. Beaumont's goal is clear: assassinating the President, and for cops: stopping Beaumont, by any means and for that job: there's the unflappable face of Robert Hossein, as Rosen, the man who made it personal: so calm, so scary that he's the perfect antagonist to the flamboyant and charismatic Beaumont.

To conclude, whatever could be perceived as flaws is so archetypal of a certain breed of French cinema that it takes a sort of gourmet pleasure to appreciate it, especially today when, for the sake of realism, the macho man has turned into a sexual beast and when characters are all bland and particularly unlikable. Interestingly, one of the new generations actors who was inspired by Belmondo is Jean Dujardin and you can see how he inherited his mannerisms, this mix of charisma and flamboyance. There are some times where nothing can beat old-school cinema, because it was so damn serious but never took itself seriously.

And the last five minutes are so breathtaking, that whatever flaws you may have pointed out, it totally redeems the film, especially thanks to the iconic score of Ennio Morricone. Simply put, "The Professional" is one of the best French films!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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